New START treaty’s US-Russia data exchange won’t happen after Moscow’s suspension

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New START treaty’s US-Russia data exchange won’t happen after Moscow’s suspension

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The United States and Russia will not participate in the semiannual data exchange as laid out under the New START treaty.

Dr. John Plumb, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy, told lawmakers on the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that the U.S. reached out to Russia on Monday regarding the data exchange, and Moscow informed them that it would not be complying, so the U.S. won’t, either.

NEW START TREATY: PUTIN SUSPENDS PARTICIPATION IN LAST REMAINING NUCLEAR DEAL WITH US

“We had a further interaction with Russia, pressing them on the upcoming end of the month, there is due a semiannual data exchange every six months,” he explained. “Under the treaty, we exchange data on kind of high-level numbers. Russia responded that they will not be providing that information, and so as a diplomatic countermeasure, the United States will not be providing that information back.”

The New START treaty was the only agreement left regulating the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals, but Russian President Vladimir Putin announced he was suspending his country’s participation in, but not withdrawing from, it on Feb. 21.

The U.S. has not gotten any relevant notifications from Russia this month, Plumb said, explaining that the U.S. is trying to “balance both responding to Russia’s irresponsible behavior but to continue to demonstrate what we believe a responsible nuclear power actually should be.”

The treaty, which was initially signed in 2010, capped the number of warheads that each country can deploy, 1,500, and the deployment of land and submarine-based missiles and bombers to deliver them, 700. Then-Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev signed the treaty, and the two sides agreed to extend it just days before its expiration in February 2021 for another five years.

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Inspections halted over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, though the two sides were set to meet in November in Egypt to start talks about resuming them — but the Russian side postponed it.

President Joe Biden said at the time that Putin made a “big mistake” in deciding to pause participation in the treaty. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Putin’s announcement “deeply unfortunate and irresponsible,” adding, “We’ll be watching carefully to see what Russia actually does.”

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